What information do musicians need to know about individual looked after children before they start working with them on a musical project?

Why this is an important question

Social care staff will be bound by confidentiality not to disclose information about the background and lives of individual looked after children. Within the overall context of the need for confidentiality there are some philosophical and practical variables.

Philosophical. Many musicians want to relate to the young people as young people with as little pre-knowledge as possible. Some, however, are prepared to see themselves as a partner in a therapeutic activity and would welcome more information on therapeutic goals for the child.

Practical. Very occasionally, musicians are taken by surprise by specific children’s behaviours, medical-related problems etc. and would have welcomed a prior alert to these possibilities.

Towards answers

This is probably a case of the information being ‘in the team’ but not necessarily within in every member of the team. The developing relationship between musicians and professional care staff, the growing understanding of each others’ practice and the collective reflective practice accompanying it will allow an appropriate degree of information sharing to emerge.

Illustrations from practice

(Taken from music projects funded by Sing Up and Youth Music)

"We always have an hour and a half before the session – for set up but most is for talking with S, our CYPS colleague, who has made it her job to find out from her colleagues how individual children reacted to the last session during the week  and any significant changes in their lives e.g. contact sessions coming up, anxieties about Christmas. We don’t ask or need to know about the reasons they are in care in the first place – and she wouldn’t tell us anyway for reasons of confidentiality -  but this other ‘low level’ info helps us be sensitive to issues but also to opportunities."
(Project Manager)

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